“Yes sir!” The guards with him were all his direct subordinates, and they immediately charged in to surround Zu An. They knew that he was a golden-token envoy, so none of them let down their guard. However, their general was leading them, and they had their fellow imperial guards to back them up. This fellow was all alone, so he was dead for sure.
Zu An wore a grave expression. He was completely focused, on the lookout for a sudden attack.
An icily arrogant voice sounded beside his ear. “Should I help out?”
Zu An couldn’t help but chuckle. So, Yun Jianyue had been paying attention to the situation all this while. He chuckled when he thought of her peeping through a crack within the door.
“There’s no need. I’ll be even more dead if you come out right now,” Zu An quickly replied through ki.
What a joke! If Yun Jianyue revealed herself, he would be dead many times over.
“Hmph! You’re dead for sure if I don’t make an appearance.” Yun Jianyue clearly did not like being treated as a burden.
“Relax, I have a plan,” Zu An replied quickly, glancing nervously to one side. Crown princess, why aren’t you here yet? Your future man is in danger!
As if she had heard his prayer, a lavishly-dressed figure suddenly came into view nearby.
A thought came to Zu An, and he raised his voice in anger. “Cheng Xiong, why are you so determined to get rid of me? Is it because I saved the crown princess last night and ruined your plans?”
The crown princess frowned when she heard this. She was confused by the legion of imperial guards surrounding his residence, and his words led her to several conclusions.
Given her standing, she knew that Cheng Xiong was a part of King Qi’s faction. Could they have truly been behind the attack the night before?
The conflict between the crown prince and King Qi was already reaching its climax. Nothing was too surprising at this point.
Cheng Xiong was about to give the order to attack, but this sudden accusation shocked and infuriated him. “Bastard, how dare you spout such nonsense!?”
You have successfully trolled Cheng Xiong for 444… 444… 444…
Such an accusation was enough to send him to the executioner! If such a charge were sustained, his entire clan would be eradicated!
Zu An said coldly, “No secret remains secret forever, unless everyone involved is dead. If that wasn’t your plan, then why attack me as though you’ve lost your mind? Do you think it’s so easy to bully a golden-token envoy?”
The soldiers under Cheng Xiong looked uncertainly at their commander. This situation did feel slightly bizarre to them. They usually went out of their way to avoid any of the Embroidered Envoy. It’s considered a blessing if none of these envoys came looking for you, yet you’re provoking one of them on purpose, and a golden-token envoy at that.
Cheng Xiong was about to erupt in fury. He knew all about framing others for a crime, but he had genuine reasons to suspect Zu An’s involvement with the assassins this time. Now, however, the tables had been turned on him.
“Scoundrel! You dare slander my name? Die!” He brandished his blade, sending a surging wave of power cleaving towards Zu An.
There was another reason for doing this—he wanted to witness Zu An’s combat skills. If it was revealed that he wielded the flame element, and had the ability to conjure a flaming blade like the one that had attacked him the night before, it would prove everything.
With a snort, Zu An sent his palm out to meet the blade. The Heaven-Devouring Sutra sucked away all of the ki on his blade.
“What is the name of this technique?” Cheng Xiong was incredibly bewildered. Whenever his blade got near Zu An, his strength would suddenly vanish. He realized that he might not be able to defeat his opponent one-on-one. “What are you all staring at? Charge at him!”
The imperial guards in the palace were excellently trained in the use of formations. When they fought together, a single opponent stood no chance against them.
Those guards had already completed their formations. They raised their bows to fire at their opponent. Suddenly, a dignified voice rang out. “Halt! What are you all doing?”
All eyes turned towards the source of the voice. When they recognized who it belonged to, they instantly bowed respectfully. “We greet the crown princess!”
Cheng Xiong was taken by surprise. Why is this woman here?! Despite this thought, he bowed right away as well, not daring to show any carelessness.
The crown princess scanned the scene before her with her frigid gaze. “You all are truly something else! Why is it that I didn’t see any of you doing much of anything when the assassins attacked yesterday, yet you’re all so vigorous and lively now?””
Shame burned within the hearts of the imperial guards as they took in the crown princess’ criticism.
Cheng Xiong was comparatively calmer than his subordinates. “The crown princess has misunderstood,” he replied quickly. “We are only carrying out an investigation.”
He then explained how the palace gate guards had noticed an infiltrator blending in with the use of an Embroidered Envoy uniform.
The crown princess snorted. “If you knew he was an assassin, why didn’t you apprehend him?”
Zu An almost burst out laughing. That’s my girl! She thinks the same way I do.
Cheng Xiong choked on his breath, and quickly tried to redeem himself. “We only found out later on.”
The crown princess turned to look at Zu An. Lord Eleven is just as cool and handsome as I remember. Her lips instinctively curved into a smile. By the time she turned to face Cheng Xiong again, however, her face had lost all of its happy emotion. “Since you didn’t notice anything suspicious then, how can you be so certain that this embroidered envoy is an assassin? Do you all have any proof?”
“Um…” Cheng Xiong struggled to find the words to answer her. After all, he only had his personal speculation to work off of. Even though it all made sense, he still lacked concrete proof. “We’re examining the uniforms of the Embroidered Envoy precisely to look for proof. Any innocent party would have all of their uniforms, but the one who aided the assassin’s escape would be missing a set.”
The crown princess turned to look at Zu An again. She could see just how determined Cheng Xiong was.
Zu An sneered. “I’ve said this already. How can you demand that I prove my innocence just with a mere accusation? In the future, could I accuse you of any random crime, and use that as an excuse to ransack your whole estate? General Cheng, would you accept such a thing happening to you?”
The crown princess had a sharp mind. Guided by Zu An’s earlier suggestion, she was truly beginning to suspect King Qi’s faction of trying to undermine those loyal to the crown prince. “Indeed. General Cheng, your argument is not convincing enough.”
Cheng Xiong tamped down on his anger. “Crown princess, as a general, I do not make accusations lightly. Yesterday, guards patrolling this area happened to see two of the Embroidered Envoy walk out from his house. Their testimony can serve as proof. Everyone knows that the members of the Embroidered Envoy live extremely isolated lives. Which of them would invite another one into their private residence? The other one surely has to be an assassin!”
He sneered. The moment Zu An failed to give a proper response, he would immediately close out this victory by forcing him to reveal the other embroidered envoy’s identity. There would be almost no escape then.
The crown princess looked at Zu An with a frown. “Did such a thing happen?”
Zu An shook his head. “All of this is nonsense. When did I leave my residence with another embroidered envoy? All the imperial guards are your subordinates—they would obviously do what you tell them to do. General Cheng, you’ve truly gone quite far in order to frame me.”
Cheng Xiong almost spat out blood. This man was lying through his teeth! How could there be such a shameful person in this world?
Whenever he framed anyone, he made sure that everything was arranged perfectly. He could accuse others of guilt even if they didn’t have any. Yet today, despite knowing his target was guilty, he felt utterly helpless in taking him down!
You have successfully trolled Cheng Xiong for 999… 999… 999…
“Crown princess, please do not let this person deceive you,” Cheng Xiong pleaded. “He has evil intentions, and colluded with the assassins. He is surely part of this conspiracy that has wrought such atrocious deeds.”
The crown princess cut him off. “Enough. If Lord Eleven has truly colluded with the assassins, then why would he go so far to fend off the assassins and save my life… ahem… and that of the crown prince?”
“The assassins who attacked the Palace of Peace and those who attacked the eastern palace might not be from the same camp,” Cheng Xiong replied subconsciously. “Just because he colluded with the assassins from the Palace of Peace does not mean that he is related to those who stormed the eastern palace.”
The crown princess’ face darkened. “He rescued me, and the crown prince, yet he colluded with the assassins who attacked the Palace of Peace. Is General Cheng claiming that we were out to kill the empress?”
Cheng Xiong was horrified. “This general doesn’t dare suggest such a thing! That’s not what I was trying to say…”
He wanted to continue, but the crown princess would hear no more. “Enough. Both His Majesty and Zhuxie Chixin have personally vouched for Lord Eleven. If General Cheng believes that there is something wrong with him, then perhaps you’re questioning the wisdom of both His Majesty and Lord Zhuxie in choosing him?”
Cheng Xiong was sweating buckets. “This general absolutely does not dare to suggest this.”
This woman really was formidable. She was throwing accusations at him one after another, and he dared not suffer any of them.
Knowing that there was no way he could take down Lord Eleven with the crown princess around, he ordered his subordinates to withdraw. At the same time, he began to wonder why the crown princess would suddenly make an appearance. He resolved to be more meticulous in his preparations in the future. He wouldn’t talk to Lord Eleven, but arrest him on the spot.Previous Chapter Next Chapter